16 The  Satta-Bacciu Story

The Satta-Bacciu Family

One oft told interpretation of the origin of the name Satta is that originally it was "S'atta", which means "the knife's edge", perhaps derived from the pirates coming from Northern Europe. This would also explain the above average height of the Sattas and their fair complexion and clear eyes.  

Some connection does exist in Sardinia with the far North, as is evidenced in the Sardinian dance, called "Scottis", which is similar to the Scottish jig and identical to a local dance seen in Bergen in Norway. Perhaps the Vikings did manage to sail this far South at some time in history.  

Anastasia Altana Bacciu, mother of Babbai and Giovanna, third from the right in the photo above

Anastasia Altana married a Bacciu and gave birth to Giovanni Battista, who was to become a priest, and affectionately known as "Babbai", and to Giovanna Anna. This daughter subsequently married another Bacciu, Giovanni and had four daughters, Maria, Giovanna, Teresa and Giacobba, the latter marrying Giovanni Satta, from Ozieri.

An haraldic search on the name Satta, gave the following result: "A Gallura family (Gallura is the North-Eastern part of Sardinia) whose origins date from the early 16th century. In 1502 a certain Angelo Satta obtained the jurisdiction of the podestÓ over the Coghinas area, from Count d'Oliva, which his descedndants  kept until 1596. One of these, Antonio, in 1599 obtained a knight-hood; his sons were admitted to the military ......... in 1626 during the Vivas parliament and thereafter were permitted to attend other parliamentary sittings. The sons of Antonio formed two separate branches of the family: 
a) Giovanni Antonio continued to live in Tempio and had two sons, who formed two other branches; Giovanni Battista continued the Satta line in Tempio, which died out in the 18th century; Giovanni Antonio settled in Nulvi where his descendants continued to live.  
The Bacciu coat of arms        The Satta coat of arms

b) From Giovanni Maria, the other son of Antonio, descended a branch which divided further in the course of the centuries. His son Francesco lived in Bitti and in 1642 obtained a hereditary knight-hood and nobility in 1646 and was also accepted to military ........... His sons gave origin to three different lines: from Peter, who lived in Buddus˛, descended the Sattas of Pattada and of Bonorva, who received a further acknowledgment of nobility in 1777, together with the brothers Antonio Michele, a priest, Giuseppe Pietro and their nephew Philip. From Francesco descended the Satta Apeludi of Bitti, one section of which transferred to Mamoida and Gavoi, in the 18th century." 

The Bacciu family - Click to enlarge

Giovanni Satta was born in Tula, direct and only decendant of the wealthy landowning family Chessa and by profession was a high-school teacher. He married a girl from Buddus˛, Giacobba Bacciu in 1938 and went to live on the mainland. They lived in their own house in Frascati, a pretty town overlooking Rome, situated on the slope of an old volcano and is famous for its light white wine. Giovanni taught in two schools  in Rome for the sons of the Italian nobility, Nobile Collegio Mondragone and Villa Sora and has had some very illustrious pupils.  

Giacobba and Giovanni Satta

During the war, the Germans made the princely Villa Aldobrandini their headquarters, which came under fire by the American allies, trying to rout them from Italy. It was on one of these airial bombing raids, on the 8th of September 1943, that Giacobba sought shelter, together with the other inhabitants of Frascati, in the large wine cellars, 42 steps deep beneath the villa. She was 8 months pregnant of Margherita and held the 14 month old Anna in her arms, who shuddered at each bomb blast.

When it was all over, she came out to find that the whole town was razed to the ground. Her nine room house had been abundantly furnished with antique family heirlooms and the cellar was stacked with still unopened wedding gifts and with large stocks of olive oil. An incendiary bomb had centred the house, destroying it and the resulting fire raged for days. The iron bedsteads, the silvery cutlery and jewellery, were fused into a single mass of metal. There was nothing to be saved; they had lost everything. Today there is a small piazza near the church to mark the empty place where the house once stood.

Giovanni was in Rome that day and witnessed the bombing from afar. He rushed to Frascati fearing the worst and found his wife and child in a state of shock, but alive. Sadly, they made their way back to Rome. Here they rented an apartment that had belonged to the Jewish engineer Bernabei, who had been an innocent victim of the Nazis. He was one of the 120 persons that had been picked at random, rushed off to the Ardeatine caves and machined-gunned, in retaliation for the 12 German soldiers killed in a partisan bomb blast in Via Rasella, in Rome.  You can still see today the deflagration marks on the walls of the houses there and the Fosse delle Ardeatine have become a national monument.

While living in this house, they had an inspection by the Nazis and Giovanni was terrified for his wife Giacobba, who had Jewish sounding name, being the feminine of "Jacob". He feared that she be whisked off to a concentration camp, as happened to many Italian Jews in that period. Giacobba took care to always give her name as "Giacomina", which remained all her life.


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